The effects of COVID-19 are also touching the legal world. COVID-19 causes bar exam postponement in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. These three states have announced that the bar exam will be delayed to fall 2020, citing student safety as the primary reason for the new exam dates. Other states have yet to announce their plans. These decisions come on the heels of the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ announcement that bar exams will be offered in the fall for jurisdictions that don’t want to hold the exam in July.
In response, law students from New York, California, and Washington, D.C. are petitioning for an “emergency diploma,” meaning that students would automatically be admitted to the bar without sitting for the bar exam. Students support the move, stating that the bar exam delay causes problems with bar grant money and summer employment.
Many law professors are concerned about the decision to hold the bar exam in the fall. Professors are wondering if the exam can even be held at all in the fall. The medical community has expressed concern that the virus will return in the fall months, and with a vengeance, making it impossible for communities to have the large gatherings that the bar exam requires.
The concern for employers, if the “emergency diploma” petition gains traction, is the availability of employment opportunities for new grads. With millions of people filing for unemployment each week, firms are struggling to hold on to current employees and bring in new business. Even if the graduates can bypass the bar exam, many firms will not be advertising for new associates.
We will continue to follow this story as updates occur. For more information, read the Law.com article linked here.
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